Wellington: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday postponed the general election by four weeks to October 17, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ardern was considering several options, including holding the election on September 19, as planned, postponing it for four weeks, or holding it on November 21.
“I have decided, on balance, to move the election by four weeks to the 17th of October. At the end of last week, I was advised that this date is achievable and presents no greater risk than had we retained the status quo,” Ardern told a press conference.
‘This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead, ‘ she added.
Last week, New Zealand registered four new cases for the first time in 102 days, prompting the authorities to impose quarantine on the country’s largest city of Auckland.
“With the re-emergence of COVID-19 in our community these are not ordinary times and so while the decision as to the election date sits with me, I spoke with all party leaders to seek their views,” Ardern said.
“COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come. Continuously pushing out an election does not lessen the risk of disruption,” the prime minster said, adding she would not change the election date again.
New Zealand has confirmed a total of 1,271 cases, with a death toll of 22.